Fusha to Shami 31: Reflexives etc

One point we didn’t cover in any of the previous posts is the very basic issue of how to express doing something to yourself (reflexives) and doing something to one another (reciprocals). Both of these are quite important and differ (to some extent) from fuSHa, so let’s cover them here!

Reflexives

The reflexive pronoun

In English we have the reflexive pronouns formed with possessives and ‘self’, and in fuSHa we have basically the same system with نفس ‘spirit’. Whilst there are contexts in which you might hear نفس with reflexive meaning in colloquial, far and away the most common reflexive pronoun in Shami is not formed with نفس but with حالـ plus possessive pronouns:

احكي عن حالك é7ki 3an 7aalak – speak for yourself!

ليش عم تجاكر حالك؟ leesh 3am @tjaaker 7aalak? – why are you spiting yourself?

مفكر حالو شي خرية كبيرة mfakker 7aalo shi kharye kbiire – he thinks he’s the shit [some big shit]

With plural pronouns 7aal remains the same and does not pluralise like English ‘self’:

شايفين حالون shaayfiin 7aalon – they’re arrogant [they’ve seen themselves]

Reflexives without 7aal

In some limited situations normal pronouns are used with a reflexive meaning:

غصبن عنك ghaSbin 3annakin spite of yourself

Reflexive-style verbs

There are some verbs which in and of themselves are often best translated as reflexive despite the absence of a reflexive pronoun:

احترقت  ‪7tara2@t – I burnt myself

انتحر nta7ar – he killed himself (نحر ‘to slaughter)

Reciprocals

These are expressions like ‘they hit one another’ where the action is being carried out by two parties on one another at the same time.

The reciprocal pronoun

Lining up with English ‘one another’ or ‘each other’, fuSHa has various expressions formed with بعض, probably originally in the sense of ‘some’ (like the long fuSHa structure, ضرب بعضُهم البعضَ, which probably originally meant ‘some of them hit some [others]’ or ‘one of them hit the [other]’). In Syrian the most common way of phrasing it is just to use بعض ba3@D on its own as a catchall ‘one another’ or ‘each other’:

ضربو بعض Darabu ba3@D – they hit one another

متل بعض mét@l ba3@D – like one another, similar

نفس بعض naf@s ba3@D – the same thing, the same as one another

طلعو ببعض TTalla3u bba3@D – they looked at one another

Reciprocal verbs

As in fuSHa, some verbs are inherently reciprocal, typically form V or form VI:

تصالحو tSaala7u – they made up (with one another – compare صالحو Saala7o  ‘he made up with him’)

تحاكو t7aaku – they spoke (with one another compare حاكاه ‘he spoke to him’)

When they are really reciprocal the subject is usually plural. However, there are lots of cases where these reciprocals actually may appear with a singular subject and an object expressed with مع. Here, of course, ‘one another’ is not an appropriate translation.

تصالحت معو tSaala7@t ma3o – I made up with him (functionally a synonym of صالحتو)

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